Glasgow Uni in trans-Atlantic venture

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Amy MacGregor

The University of Glasgow will collaborate with Stanford University and the Caltech Institute in a £1.6 million project to investigate the commercial opportunities in the study of photonics.

The collaborative programme, funded by the Science Bridges award from Research Councils UK, will see the Universities of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde and St. Andrew’s work with their Californian partners to build a network between the institutions’ photonics departments with the aim of maximising the commercial opportunities of leading  research.

Professor of Experimental Physics at Glasgow University, Sheila Rowan, who will be heavily involved with the scheme, described the benefits the collaboration will bring.

She said: “The venture has a great mix of opportunities for Scottish researchers to get experience of working at Stanford with mentoring from Stanford staff and industrialists with extensive experience in commercialising technologies in optics and photonics in the heart of silicon valley.

“There is nowhere else in the world that you can get exposed to such a concentration of high-tech research and extensive first-hand knowledge of how to turn cutting-edge research into products.

“It’s a great opportunity for young researchers here to both spend time in the US and help translate that experience into technology transfer back in the UK.”

The project itself will focus upon the application of photonics in life sciences and renewable energy.

UK researchers will be able to spend a year working in a Stanford or Caltech laboratory and there will also be several staff exchanges to allow the development of joint activities.

Industrial growth will be encouraged by pilot projects demonstrating the potential for commercial exploitation and the development of an investor network of companies interested in investing within the photonics sector.

Principal Investigator within the project, Professor Allister Ferguson, of Strathclyde University, explained the potential for economic development he believes the project will hopefully introduce.

He told Guardian: ”The project will harness economic impact from collaborative research projects between the partner organisation.

“The project will develop people through the entrepreneurship fellowships programmes and staff exchanges.
“It will enable pilot projects that could lead to the creation of new enterprises.”